Sikh Court Case against Polish Border Guard: hearing of Appeal postponed to mid February 2013
The hearing of the Appeal in the case of Shaminder Puri vs Polish Border Guard has been postponed to mid Feb next year as stated by the lawyers acting in the Case.
Mr Puri, the claimant whose case is fully supported by the Helsinki Foundation (Warsaw) expressed disappointment at the delay, caused by the illness of one of the three judges in the Appeal Court Panel. He stated that "It would be good to bring the case to a close, but the postponement gives us more time to mobilise increased public opinion in our favour".
The Court Case arose from the new EU Regulations on airport security checks. Many EU airports interpreted the rules such that Sikh travellers were not humiliated, however some did not, especially at Warsaw's Fredrick Chopin airport.
Arvinder Singh, an IT Expert from Maidenhead, UK, stated that he was very poorly treated by Border Guards demanding that he remove his turban, without first conducting any other check with available methods such as detectors and hand pat downs.
Another Sikh, Harminder Singh from Basingstoke, UK, was given the same humiliating treatment during his business related travel to Warsaw.
Charanjit Walia a businessman resident in Poland, travelling frequently through the Airport at Warsaw was held up several times, to the extent that he lodged an official complaint through his Sikh Gurudwara in Singapore, where he is a citizen, to the Polish Ambassador.
With these harassments going on, Shaminder Puri, who was himself harassed on ten occasions as he passed through the airport on business travel, decided that enough was enough. He compiled a Case Document and submitted it to Poland’s Helsinki Foundation, whose review concluded that Human Rights had indeed been violated in the case of these Sikhs. The Court Case against the Border Guard was launched in Sept 2010.
In a lower court, the Judge ruled against the action that Puri brought in Dec 2011. The ruling was thought to be very unbalanced, and was even thought to be defective by the lawyers of the Helsinki Foundation, as well as the pro bono firm that is prosecuting the Case. An appeal was launched in March 2012.
The appeal was due to be heard on the 21st Dec, but due to the illness of one of the three Judges on the Appeal Panel, the hearing has been postponed to the 12th Feb 2013.
With the Case proceeding, several developments have taken place and the Authorities in Poland have taken actions that can only be considered positive in their treatment of Sikhs passing through. Mr Puri notes that it was his Court Case that has brought such changes, which are good. "We still need to follow through on the Court Case, in order to embed into legislation that mis treatment of innocent people by the Polish Border Guard is illegal", he has stated.